DESCENDED FROM COWBOYS, RANCHERS AND RODEO STARS, THE YOUNG GUNS OF THE NEW JOHN WAYNE STOCK & SUPPLY CAMPAIGN ARE PRESERVING THE LANDS AND TRADITIONS OF THE OLD WEST.
Written by Constance Dunn
Fort Worth is a pivotal stopover in the story of the American West—so it made perfect sense to shoot the new John Wayne Stock & Supply collection at locations in and around the Stockyards National Historic District, and at a working ranch located not far from this Western capitol. Both settings are ideal for capturing scenes of the New West, which is to say the Old West refitted with a 21st-century lens. Also fitting were its models: two dyed-in-the-wool Texas couples who live and breathe the Western lifestyle each day, doing everything from cattle ranching and rodeo to photography. And each couple is doing much to preserve their cherished way of life for future generations—including their own children’s.
Not surprisingly, both couples first met at the rodeo, a place that Cody Brown and Pistol and Halley Preece know well. “When I turned 18, I started riding bulls professionally,” says Cody. “I rode until I was 28, then I started ranching and cattling full time; that’s where my passion and heart has always been.” Halley, on the other hand, is a barrel racer who hails from a South Texas cattle ranch (“My dad was a professional bareback rider who made the national finals six times,” she says), and her husband Pistol is a third-generation professional bull rider, once scoring a near-perfect 94 at a Gallup, New Mexico rodeo. (In bull riding, scores of 80 points are considered excellent, while those 90 points or higher are exceptional—and rare.) “I sustained some injuries back in 2019, which put me out for a little while,” says Pistol. “I miss it, but I’ve enjoyed focusing on my kids and my wife while still ranching and working cattle.” The tradition continues with the Preeces’ toddler daughter, who has taken up horseback riding and even competes in youth rodeos. What’s more, adds Pistol, “Our little boy is 16 months, and he carries around a rope all day long with his cowboy hat on. Every day.”
On the ranch, in the arena, or on the set of a photo shoot, the Brown and Preece clans are fans of John Wayne films, with The Cowboys (1972) a common favorite. When asked if he grew up watching John Wayne movies, Pistol quips: “Yes—who didn’t? He’s the Duke of all time.” Even our time. “My kids would rather watch John Wayne movies than cartoons,” says Cody, while Kourtney describes how their 10-year-old daughter recently asked for, and received, a birthday trip to John Wayne: An American Experience, the 10,000-square-foot exhibit at Stockyards.
“My kids would rather watch John Wayne movies than cartoons.”
Cody traces his connection to John Wayne via his grandfather, the cowboy, rancher and Western author J.P.S. Brown, whose book “Jim Kane” was made into the 1972 film, Pocket Money, starring Paul Newman and Lee Marvin. “My grandfather knew him,” says Cody of Wayne. “He said he rode a horse really well and didn’t need a double very often.” Neither did Cody during his recent turn on the Yellowstone prequel 1883, where he cuts an impressive figure galloping across the plains before receiving a tomahawk in the back.
Kourtney Brown, meanwhile, was raised in North Dallas but has embraced life on the ranch, relishing how it intensifies the close bonds of family. “Even when you rodeo, families are always together,” she points out. “Or when ranching, the kids get to work with the dad. It’s generational.” She also uses her keen visual eye to capture the poetic scenes of life on the ranch in Godley, Texas. “Cowboys like to have these moments captured,” says the photographer with a chuckle. “Whether it’s their bull ride, or when they saddle a colt for its first ride. They don’t mind having a camera right in the middle of all the chaos. Their lifestyle is timeless. It’s beautiful.”
“Even when you rodeo, families are always together. ”